New school bus deal goes $20M over ministerial funding

by Joseph Coppolino - EAP
New school bus deal goes $20M over ministerial funding
STEO and the bus operators came to an agreement just days before the first day of the 2023-2024 school year. The deal is expected to cost the two school boards an additional $20 million over the course of the four-year deal, exceeding the funding available from the Ministry of Education. (Photo : file)

The last-minute deal between the student transportation organization STEO and the bus operators is costing the two school boards millions of dollars more over the course of the four-year deal.

Though the details of the deal remain between Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario (STEO) and the Eastern Ontario Bus Operators Association, a consortium of bus companies, the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) stated the cost to them and the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CSDBEO), the two school boards represented by STEO, will be $20 million more than their previous agreement.

“We can share that over the next four years, which is the length of the new contract, an additional $20 million dollars will be paid in transportation costs to STEO by the member boards.”

Spokesperson for the UCDSB, April Scott-Clarke, said that though the amount “exceeds the amount of funding that is provided to the UCDSB by the Minister of Education for transportation,” they are confident there will not be negative impacts to student programming or transportation.

“At this time, we do not have the specific details around where supporting revenue will be drawn from, but we do know that the 2023-24 school year budget will not be impacted and, based on experience, do not expect to jeopardize any future program opportunities,” added Scott-Clarke.

The UCDSB received just short of $37 million in transportation funding for the 2023-2024 school year for their 27,000 students from Lanark County to the United Counties of Prescott-Russell. The CSDBEO, with a significantly smaller student body of 13,000 students across the same catchment area, received more than $21 million. The UCDSB is responsible for 60 per cent of STEOs transportation costs, which provides services to 30,000 students across the two boards.

In its 2023-2024 budget of $424 million, the UCDSB increased its transportation costs from the previous year by $1.8 million, from $35.4 million to $37.2 million. The CSDBEO’s budget for 2023-2024 is over $214 million, with over $20 million going to transportation costs.

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